The Grey Zone

Director Tim Blake Nelson adapts his own play, which was partly based on a memoir about Auschwitz’s 12th Sonderkommandoone of the special squads of Jewish prisoners awarded privileges and a few extra months of life in exchange for helping to exterminate the other Jews in the camp. This is grueling to watch and to think about, which doesn’t necessarily make it edifying, though the actors (including Nelson, David Arquette, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, and Natasha Lyonne) certainly do serious work. The questions of how the holocaust can be responsibly represented on film have been resolved provisionally only by Night and Fog and Shoah. This film, proceeding as if such questions don’t exist, serves up so many peripheral details about Auschwitz that I wondered whether the feel-good tactics of Schindler’s List were any worse than the feel-bad tactics here. 108 min. (JR)

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